In an organized, coordinated social-media blitz, numerous star NFL players voiced their displeasure to the league about the unresolved health-and-safety guidelines ahead of the start of training camp amid the coronavirus pandemic.
The NFL told teams on Saturday that they can open up full training camps by July 28 — with rookies reporting as early as Tuesday — even though coronavirus numbers across the nation continue spiking.
It has created understandable unease from the players tasked in reporting to those camps as the league has failed to disclose how they will be protected once they leave their homes.
“We still have not been granted the full and proper training camp acclimation period necessary as recommended by medical and training staffs,” Houston Texans star defensive end J.J. Watt wrote. “We still do not know if there will be daily testing, every other day testing, etc.”
“We still do not know if there will be preseason games or not. We still do not know how a positive COVID test will be handled in regards to others in close contact (in the huddle, directly engaged with, etc.).”
Watt also revealed that if players don’t show up to camps on time, they can be fined or their teams can consider their tardiness a break of contract.
Roughly at noon ET on Sunday, the players began to speak out.
“I am concerned. My wife is pregnant. NFL training camp is about to start and there’s still no clear plan on player health and family safety,” Seattle Seahawks star quarterback Russell Wilson wrote. “We want to play football but we also want to protect our loved ones.”
Without a clear opt-out plan in place, there is a possibility that players who are at high-risk or have high-risk family members could be punished if they decide to sit out the 2020 season.
“It blows my mind that the NFL is unwilling to follow the recommendations of their own experts regarding player health and safety,” New Orleans Saints safety Malcolm Jenkins wrote. “If we want to have a full season this year, we need the NFL to listen to their experts.”
Considering the NFL had the advantage of being in their offseason when the pandemic hit, the lack of clarity pertaining to the players is an indictment on those in charge.
“You want to watch football this year? The players need to remain healthy in order to make that happen,” Atlanta Falcons running back Todd Gurley wrote. “The NFL needs to do their part in order to bring football back safely in 2020.”
And there is little sugar-coating going on.
“If the NFL doesn’t do their part to keep the players healthy, there is no football in 2020,” Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett wrote. “It’s that simple.”